We have this computer program at my school to help kids improve their attention and listening skills. They work on it every day for about an hour, playing various games while wearing headphones to hear the instructions. I monitor them, coach them if they’re having trouble, and keep track of their progress on a colourful wall chart. Four kids can do this program at the same time, each at a different level, working at his or her own speed.
To monitor and coach them, I have a double headphone jack, so I can plug both my headphones and theirs into the computer and I can hear what the program is telling them to do. I can easily determine where they are having difficulty or where they are excelling, and I can comment appropriately.
One of the games shows four pictures on the screen, then a voice says a word. The kid is supposed to click on the correct picture. Because it’s a computery voice, it’s sometimes hard to discern exactly what the word is. Also, the words are chosen to enhance listening, so there might be, for example, pictures showing “bays, pays, base, pace”. The voice might then say “bays”, but if the kid confuses sounds like “b” and “p”, he or she could make an error. It can be pretty niggly stuff, but fortunately the program moves along to the next set of four pictures quite quickly, so the kids don’t have much time to get frustrated.
I was listening in while little Iris was working away at that program. Iris is in Grade 2, and is having a very tough time at school, both academically and behaviourally. We are thinking that she may be learning disabled or be ADHD or have some serious language processing issues. We hope that this computer program will help her while we wait to have her assessed in more detail to find out exactly what is going on with her.
Anyway, Iris was gazing at the four pictures on the screen. The computer voice said “buck”. She clicked, correctly, on a picture of a dollar bill (the program is American). Then she said, in a very conversational tone, “Buck you.”
I wasn’t sure I heard her properly. I was wearing headphones, after all, so a lot of the ambient noise in the classroom was quite muffled.
And then she said it again!
Then she blithely clicked on the computer screen to move on to the next set of four pictures.
So not only does Iris have quite the potty mouth for a little girl in Grade 2 (she does have two much older brothers, which may explain her language), she also mixes up the sounds “b” and “f”, AND she’s not quite sure what that particular four-letter word that she thought she was saying actually means!
I think we’re going to have to do a LOT of work with Iris.